Photograph #51

by Robert Frazier

They all knew
What great chemistry Rosalind was up to
Secluded in that room secure as a gun safe
Vigilant about her X-ray crystallography
And why shouldn’t she be belligerent defensive
At odds with Wilkins who thought her unequal
Working in the halls of science in an unfair era
When a woman’s research was fair game to men
As it happened Wilkins showed her DNA imagery
To Watson and thus Crick without her permission
And most agreed she’d have beat them to revelation
If they hadn’t been exposed to her evidence
That ghostly “x” photo 51 hinting at the helix spiral
Crick later estimated she was three months out
She’d already deduced the A form as anti-parallel
Of course they could have included Franklin
In the Nobel years later but she was gone buried
Rendered ineligible by ovarian cancer at 37
Perhaps a result of the radiation exposure
Having risked everything like Marie Curie
Secluded in that room secure as a gun safe
What great chemistry Rosalind was up to
They all knew

Copyright © 2020 by Robert Frazier


Featured Poet of the Month  Robert Frazier

My father taught cryptography for Army Security after working with Turing’s bombe at Bletchley Park during WWII. My mother was an oil painter who studied with Emile Albert Gruppé in Rockport. The science of deciphering gibberish into plain text somehow meshes with impressionistic imagery in my writing. I live on Nantucket Island with my wife, Karol Lindquist, a nationally recognized basketmaker, while my daughter, Timalyne, was a graduate of Clarion West in 1995 (I was at Clarion ‘80). I am the author of nine books of poetry, and a three-time winner of the Rhysling Award. I have published over one hundred poems in Asimov’s.

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